Britain’s parliament more gay and diverse after election
With more female, gay and ethnic minority background lawmakers than ever before, the new House of Commons following May 7’s general election has never looked more diverse.
Nearly one in three MPs (29 percent) are women, making up 191 out of the 650 lawmakers who will return for the formal restart of business from Monday.
That figure was 22 percent after the last election in 2010 and just under 20 percent five years previously.
The proportion differs between the parties, with 43 percent of centre-left Labour lawmakers women and 36 percent in the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), compared to 21 percent of Prime Minister David Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives.
Black or ethic minority background lawmakers make up 6.6 percent of the new Commons chamber — 42 lawmakers — up from 4.2 percent in 2010.
These figures are a long way from reflecting the make-up of British society outside parliament, though.
The proportion of lawmakers who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual — 4.9 percent or 32 MPs, up six since 2010 — is closer to the population in general, where the figure is between five and seven percent.
Of those, 12 are Conservatives, 13 Labour and the others SNP.
“Britain finds itself with the queerest legislature in the world,” an article in The Guardian newspaper noted last week.
The SNP’s landslide intake in Scotland of 56 lawmakers — up from six — includes Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old politics student who is the youngest MP since 1667.
The average age of lawmakers in the Commons is 51, up one year on the previous parliament, although the average has remained around 50 for several decades.
The educational background of lawmakers is also slightly less privileged than in previous years, according to educational charity the Sutton Trust.
Fewer studied at the elite universities of Oxford and Cambridge and fewer — 23 percent — attended private schools. That figure rises to 48 percent for the Conservatives.
London Mayor Boris Johnson — tipped as a potential successor to Cameron — will be one of the most prominent among the new intake.
The former leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, who quit after their parties’ catastrophic election results, return to the Commons, this time as humble MPs.